Virtual reality is very popular among gamers, but by no means has this trend become mainstream. Things will probably stay this way for a while. The reason? Even with the best hardware, VR is only fun for a short period of time.
Virtual reality was supposed to take gaming to the next level. It should be so immersive and so impressive that you won't want to put down the controller. And yes, playing VR games is a lot of fun but can be physically exhausting if you have the headset on long enough. VR is also increasingly being used in research and in various other industries.
But VR is still far far away from the mainstream. What's the reason for this? According to Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey, it has to do with the high cost of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The problem is that: "No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00."
According to Luckey, this isn't just an assertion, but was a finding from large-scale market research tests. Although VR might be able to inspire hardcore gamers and technology enthusiasts, there isn't much interest otherwise. Outside of gamers, more casual users haven't become more interested in the technology in recent years.
A lot of fun - for a short period of time
I would describe myself as one of these tech enthusiasts. I'm a gamer and am probably one of the typical members of the VR target market that Luckey is talking about. I've spent countless hours gaming in virtual reality with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. I've also spent time with some mixed reality headsets and the crazy backpack modules. I've always had the same impression: it's fun, but unfortunately, the fun doesn't last.
This was also evident during VR gaming sessions with friends (most of whom are also gamers) that I used to regularly host. We would meet and take turns jumping into virtual reality and have a few drinks. Everyone had a lot of fun, but it wouldn't last. We quickly changed games every few minutes and how did it all end? We played charades with the virtual reality headset or create some kind of amateur artwork together...
Among my circle of friends, no matter whether we spent the evening gaming or not, there's always the same feeling. We would have a nice evening, but none of us would buy a VR headset, despite having the budget for it. The headsets currently offer too little freedom of movement, a resolution that's too low, and games that aren't all that thrilling. I have to admit I agree with all these criticisms.
Palmer Luckey is probably right. The best current virtual reality hardware isn't good enough to break into the mainstream culture. As it stands now, VR just doesn't have enough to offer, even for gamers.
How do you see the current state of virtual reality? Do you have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive at home? Do you still have fun with it or are you already bored and only put on your headset from time to time? Let us know in the comments section!